False Teachers Say…
Deathbed Repentance Will Save
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans )
The thought of a minister going into a hospital room to comfort and encourage the sick or dying is right and good in its proper context. Repentance indeed is a true Biblical subject, but it must be taken in context. One must distinguish between the lost alien sinner and the erring Christian. Does the Bible say anything about this well-known subject?
Many people of old did their best to hold out from obeying the Gospel until that point of failing health, when it was necessary to obey. Tertullian (155‑223 A.D.) was an outspoken advocate of putting off baptism until old age. Constantine of the third century received baptism and communion on his deathbed at the hands of an Arian bishop, Eusebius of Nicodemia. In light of history we can see men desiring to live like their father the devil (John 8:44) and attempt to pinpoint the very time in which one will obey the commands of God (Luke 12:16‑21). The rich "fool" thought he could do the same, but his life was taken before he thought. Does God accept premeditation as an acceptable sacrifice (Rom. 12:1‑2)?
Many use Simon from
eight to drive home their point that "All one needs to do is repent to
from past sins." They fail to realize that Simon had already obeyed the
Gospel when he was found in sin. Thus, he was an erring Christian (Acts
The Christian can fall away from the Lord, because of sin's separating
(Isa. 59:2). At that point, as with Simon, he must repent and pray for
forgiveness (Acts 8:24; James 5:19‑20).
However, the alien sinner cannot be acceptable to God in the closing moments of his life by simply asking for forgiveness. On his deathbed, will he be able to obey from the heart, knowing he planned it this way? The alien sinner must believe, repent, confess Christ, and be immersed in water (obey the Gospel – Romans 10:16; 2 Thess. 1:6-9) in order to have his sins washed away (Mark 16:15‑16; Luke 13:3; Matt. 10:32-33; Acts 2:38). On the deathbed one's heart may have become hardened and unwilling to carry out these requirements.